How Do You Write The Perfect Blog Post?
The perfect blog post is the single best place to find information that helps the reader answer the question they typed in to Google. It should be detailed and long, contain relevant research and data, and include examples that allow the reader to draw their own conclusions.
What features do the best blog posts share? Can a successful post – one that is read and shared by thousands of people - really be distilled down to a specific formula? Or is blogging more dark art than straightforward science?
With video now so accessible to anyone with a message to share, the once-mighty blog post is looking dated. Blogging was once the obvious and only way to share your knowledge, demonstrate expertise and build your search rank, but it now forms a small subset of content marketing.
That doesn’t make them irrelevant. Blogging still has a crucial role in SEO. Just one perfect blog post could put your small business in front of hundreds of potential customers.
Is there a formula for the perfect blog post for SEO in 2019?
Yes, more than ever. The perfect post for SEO is long, visual, full of links and examples, and it’s exemplified in the way I’ve written this post. What’s that? Your dog walker’s dad’s uncle’s SEO guy told him to keep posts short and use clickbaity titles? He needs to bone up.
Need a summary? Look no further.
What is a "Perfect Post"?
The best ever blog post is full of useful information that people really want to read. It pleases the Google gods and they lift it to the top of the search rankings.
According to Search Engine Land's article: Google's Top 3 Search Ranking Factors, Google wants to see:
Words in the post relevant to the words the reader typed in to Google.
Links from other sites pointing to the post.
Evidence of reader engagement with the post.
A perfect post therefore includes enough relevant and related words to make it clear to Google what it's talking about. It must be so good that other experts link to it to help and inform their own audience. And it must be so entertaining and aesthetically pleasing that people read all the way to the end.
Tip 1: Answer the BIGGEST QUESTION
What do most of us do when we start to blog? We write about what we think no one else is writing about so we can demonstrate our point of difference.
We're scared of pitching ourselves against the experts (even though we are experts) because we haven't written papers or given keynotes at fancy conferences.
The problem is, people won't find your blog posts if they don't know they need to know the stuff you want to tell them. They're too busy searching for answers to the BIG QUESTIONS.
So swallow your misgivings and go up against the big bloggers. Which questions are the experts in your field answering?
Look At The Data
In a post for Hubspot, the inbound marketing specialists, Clifford Chi shares 6 Data-Driven Tactics For Choosing Blog Topics:
Check the stats on your existing posts. Which topics are getting the most traffic? You'll probably see most traffic on posts about things people like to do themselves (or don't want to pay other people to do).
Check what your competitors are blogging about. Tools like BuzzSumo and EpicBeat will tell you which of their posts are getting the most shares — vital information if you want your audience to do the promoting for you.
Check what people in your audience are asking each other. Browse their LinkedIn and Facebook groups. See which posts group members are sharing with each other.
Ask Google a common question, then check the suggestions in the People Also Ask box (below).
If you have a large enough audience already, ask them what else they want to know.
Ask the people in your team about your customers' pain points.
Topic & Keyword Research Tools
The term "keyword" expresses two subtly different concepts:
Words and short phrases that describe what you do and where you do it, which should be found all over your website, in metadata, and in blog posts.
Specific keywords and phrases (usually phrases) that your target audience types in to search.
In practice, the difference comes down to:
Saying you are an "Oxford Web Designer" and
Targeting the keyword phrase "How to write the perfect blog post" in a blog post.
So, the keyword research you carry out for blogging allows you to find out what people are asking Google in your subject area, and how they are phrasing their questions. You can use this information to help you phrase the title of your post.
In a refreshingly detailed article on Keyword Research for Blog Posts, Emily Winsauer talks about how keyword research helps you to understand not just what is being searched for, but who is searching and why:
"Once you have a solid understanding of your client and what they're searching for, you can frame your blog post and select your keyword group based on their interests and wording."
What About The Blog Title?
Use the question you are answering for the title of the post because research shows people are most likely to click on the link most like the phrase they typed in to Google.
Clickbait titles like "10 Ways You're Getting Blogging Completely Wrong (Number 5 Will Shock You!)" may work on BuzzFeed, but not in Google search results. They just don’t come up.
Backlinko and Neil Patel recommend LSIGraph for keyword research within a topic. Type in a subject area for a handy circle of related topics.
In practise, keyword research tools come and go, but blog topic research gets easier as you become more and more familiar with your audience's online ecosystem.
Main take away: Know your audience and don't shy away from their biggest questions.
Tip 2: Give GREAT VALUE
In 2017, Orbit Media carried out their 4th Annual Blogger Survey, where they asked 1000+ successful bloggers for the secrets of their sauce. Here is what they found:
Bloggers are spending longer on each post...
49% of bloggers who spend more than 6 hours on each post report "strong results" from blogging. That is, the longer you spend doing it, the better your posts will be.
There's no short cut to a successful blog post. You've got to put the time in.
...But publishing less often
Frequency of posting has slowed slightly with fewer bloggers posting every day or multiple times a week. Those who blog more frequently are more likely to report better results, but spending more time on each post necessarily limits blog frequency.
...And publishing longer posts
The biggest change over the last few years is the increase in blog post length. Longer posts get better results. But the content has to be good. You can't just blather on for 2000 words and expect a couple of hundred thousand shares.
So, there's no secret shortcut according to the pros. You've got to work at it.
What EXACTLY should you write?
Most blogging advice posts tell you how to choose your topic, incorporate your keywords, get to know the audience, and structure your posts.
There's really not much out there about what makes content itself great. However, we do know that people like AUTHORITATIVE content. We know that if your readers are to spend time reading something, they expect to learn a lot from it, not just about your opinion, but about everyone else's opinion too.
According to Neil Patel:
"…the underlying philosophy of blogging has to be rooted in a commitment to giving massive value."
In a nutshell, Google prioritises THE BEST CONTENT and people share THE BEST CONTENT. It sounds vague, but it should be the philosophy of your entire blog. Aim to offer as much evidence-based, actionable advice as possible in every post.
And here's the thing: You don't have to be the best at the thing to write the best thing about the thing. That's why we have copywriters. Copywriters carry out thorough research then teach the reader the main concepts and ideas.
Copyhackers on Writing The Best Content
Copywriting expert Joanna Weibe at Copyhackers teaches blogging and regularly writes and shares information on how to put together the perfect post. She and others at Copyhackers write extremely successful, widely-shared blog posts.
In how to write an epic blog post video, Joanna makes a great point about how one demonstrates authority in a blog:
"…[blog] writing is about stitching together other people’s ideas. It’s just like academic writing. If you were in university at all, at graduate, undergraduate, any level, you’re probably used to the idea of your idea not being the most important thing. Your interpretation of other people’s ideas is a very useful thing."
You don't have to be the person coming up with all the ideas. In fact, it's better if you're not. You are the person who brings the information together, shakes it around, and adds a new spin.
Joanna advises to always start with your research. Find and discuss at least two studies, five examples of how that idea has been applied, and include at least 10 outbound links in your article (links to other sites, that is).
Brian Dean on Writing the Best Content
Many moons ago I read a post by Brian Dean (Backlinko) on How to Get a #1 Ranking. It opened my eyes to both how to get a decent rank from a post but also how to provide the very best content to my audience.
Brian's post is a case study of what he calls the Skyscraper technique, a way to build an authoritative post that is so good other sites will be desperate to link to it.
Blog Tyrant on Writing the Best Content
In How to Write The Perfect Blog Post, Blog Tyrant says:
"I have a little personal rule that if I'm not hitting at least 2,000 words, I'm not covering the topic deeply enough"
Sounds like a lot? If you research a topic exhaustively and leave nothing out, you'll find it really isn't.
And How Do Keywords Fit In?
Keywords are an important way for Google to determine how relevant your post is to the thing a person is searching for. For example, if someone types "recipe for chicken teriyaki" into Google, a page that contains 'chicken', 'teriyaki', and 'recipe' is likely to be a pretty good match.
But Google doesn't just look for specific matching words, it knows from experience that 'sesame' is likely to be there, and other indicators of a recipe website should be there too, such as commonly-used measurements.
I don't need to repeat "how to write the perfect blog post" 8 times for Google to know I've written a post about how to write the perfect blog post. It's important to put it in the title, but as long as the rest of the content is completely relevant to the keyword phrase, you're on the right track.
Main take away: Make it long and informative
Tip 3: Make Your Post PRETTY
Neil Patel has been blogging about online marketing since the beginning of online marketing. In his ultimate guide to writing blog posts that rank in Google's top 10 he says:
"Your opening paragraph is your chance to draw readers further into your post. It usually asserts a point or thesis that hooks the reader and makes them want to read more."
Google knows exactly how far people read into your articles because they bounce right back to Google when they are done.
Be clear and succinct in that first paragraph about what you have to offer. It is hands down the hardest part to write, so write it at the end.
Neil offers more structure advice in the following infographic (advert Neil’s own):
Relax on style
Jay Baer of Convince & Convert offered these 5 tips top bloggers use in successful posts:
A large font – 16px at least
Bold text scattered around to draw attention to important points
Brackets to inject emotion (and humour)
Dots to create suspense…
The first two points make the text more readable and immersive. The second three allow you to inject personality into your posts.
It's not the writing style you were taught in school, that's for sure. Think of your blog style as being somewhere at the intersection of the written and spoken word.
According to the Orbit Media blogger survey, "content with more images and videos gets better results." So far so unsurprising.
Just like a really good PowerPoint presentation, visuals help to reinforce the message for visually oriented people. Images help to tell the story of what you're saying, filling in the gaps and making the post more memorable.
Here is a surprise — to me anyway: "bloggers who use audio in their blog content (presumably podcasts) are the most likely to report strong results."
Interestingly, the survey found the most shared content on social media in 2017 wasn't written blog posts at all. It was visual content, with 85% of marketers saying they share visual content and 66% of marketers saying they share blogs. This trend is only set to continue.
At its birth, the internet was a written medium because there wasn't the technology or the bandwidth to be anything else. These days it has more capability than ever to cater to our generally visual learning style.
That's not to say written blog post aren't important, but you now have more choice than ever in how to communicate different types of message. A brief infographic or meme will create a far more attractive link to your post than even a well-chosen statistic. Use video to connect with new customers and introduce them to what you have to offer.
The written medium, though falling slightly out of favour, will always be the place for the stuff you can communicate in writing better than you can with the spoken words. I.e., DATA and REFERENCES.
Tip 4: Add Some HUMANITY
Every journalist knows a story isn't a story unless it has a human angle. People will engage with your post far more if there's any kind of human story involved. And as we know from Google's ranking factors, engagement is a seriously important metric.
I watched a documentary the other day about unusual weather events. I swear nearly everyone in it almost died. Someone almost died in a flood, two people almost died in a forest fire, even more people almost died in a tsunami.
What's with all the nearly dying on a documentary about the weather? Well, as a social species, our brains have an innate bias to take more notice of things that affect people than anything else. If you want your posts to be memorable, give them a human angle. Weather is just weather until the effect is has on people becomes clear.
Stories are about peril, near failure, triumph over adversity and coming of age. Your stories may come from difficult client relationships, or indeed from realising you're not as good at blogging as you perhaps could be. Drop in a near death experience and you’ve got something compelling right there.
The most basic way to build a human angle is to use words and metaphors that are derived from or only apply to humans. Use emotion words — happy or sad ones — to grab your reader’s attention and refocus it on what you’re saying. Use metaphors that conjure up images of people in states of danger or triumph.
Here's an interesting little piece about What makes things memorable.
Tip 5: Aaaaaand PROMOTE!
Although the purpose of blogging has changed over the years and other media have stepped in and taken over, people are blogging in greater numbers than ever. You have to shout louder about your posts than ever before.
Coschedule lists a head-exploding 107 ways to promote a blog post. I’ve broken the different tactic types into free, paid and outreach to help you get your head around them…
This is obvious stuff like social media promotion and sending your latest blog posts to your email list.
Back at the Orbitmedia study it appears that over the last four years there has been a marked increase in bloggers paying money to promote their content.
Paid content promotion means advertising on social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn etc), Google, Outbrain and many more, which are helpfully detailed here. These platforms allow you to target specific demographics or users who have visited specific websites.
You can set up and track ads yourself or pay a third party to write and track your promotional efforts.
Writing on Smartblogger.com, SEO expert Brian Dean suggests blogs that burst onto the scene are probably getting a little help from established experts who already have massive audiences. The strategy is called Blogger Outreach and involves getting in touch with existing experts and asking them very nicely to namecheck and link to your post or blog.
Brian also mentions Blogger Outreach in his Skyscraper Technique case study.
Make a list of every blog and expert you've linked to, then write to them and let them know about your post. Tell them you've positioned their research and ideas next to those of other experts in the field. Suggest they might be interested in what you found out during the course of your research.
There are opportunities for links in the many blogs your audience visits. In an article on Keyword Research, Copyblogger describes how to Research Related Websites to Market Your Post. I've learned that as well as emailing all the people I mention in this post, I should email other small business advice websites to see if they want to share my blog posts.
I’ve aimed this post squarely at the little guys — the small business owners who write their own posts and want a definitive answer once and for all on what form the perfect blog post should take. I haven’t dived very deeply into the technical aspects of blog SEO because that’s best approached in an SEO-only article.
I hope I’ve been able to convince you that successful blog posts are long, detailed one-stop shops for everything a reader could ever want to know about a subject and helped you to come up with ideas, give them a human angle and promote your posts to the world.
Why not comment below and let me know the secrets of your most successful blog posts?